Biotin (Vitamin B7) helps our body to convert food into energy, improves hair and nails health, manages blood sugar levels, and supports a healthy pregnancy. In this article, you’ll find more information about biotin and its supplements for women, their uses and benefits. 

What is Biotin?

As an essential vitamin included in the B-complex, Biotin is vital for metabolism of food into energy. With the help of biotin, our body metabolizes glucose and oxygen into water and carbon dioxide, creating energy in the process. By playing an essential role in converting gene code into different cellular structures, Biotin becomes a key regulator of gene expression.

Health of organs such as the liver, nervous system, hair, skin, and eyes depend on biotin.

Symptoms and Causes of Biotin Deficiency in Women

Symptoms of Biotin Deficiency in Women

Although extremely rare, biotin deficiency can manifest in many forms and display symptoms including, but not limited to:

  • Hair loss and thinning
  • Weak and brittle nails
  • Dermatitis (scaly red skin rash)
  • Depression & Lethargy
  • Seizures and Hallucinations
  • Tingling and numbness of the extremities
  • Ataxia (lack of coordination)
  • Increase in Cholesterol Levels
  • Heart Problems

Further, biotin deficiency in women can lead to an impaired immune system, increasing susceptibility to bacterial and fungal infections. As can be noted from the list above, biotin deficiency can manifest in many forms including both physiological and psychological symptoms. 

Primary Reasons for Biotin Deficiency

Reasons for Biotin Deficiency in Women

Because the deficiency of biotin is rare, only a few causes have been noted till date. Here are the primary causes for biotin deficiency in women:

Pregnancy

Almost a third of pregnant women are deficient in biotin, which is essential for the health of not only the woman but also her baby. 

In the reproductive state, women have a higher catabolism of biotin, leading to marginal deficiency, which is teratogenic (harmful to the fetus.) Animal studies in mice, chickens, hamsters, and turkeys have depicted that marginal biotin deficiency in dams leads to substantial biotin deficiency in the fetus, resulting in skeletal malformation [1].

The evidence from animals can be correlated with humans, as 3-HIA (3-hydroxyisovaleric acid) excretion increases early in pregnancy in both mice and humans. Increased rate of 3-HIA excretion implies biotin deficiency. Further, the rate of excretion is also similar.

Also, there is no physical manifestation of marginal biotin deficiency, making it harder to identify. 

To correct marginal biotin deficiency during pregnancy, experts recommend biotin supplementation for women with 300 mcg per day, which is 10 times the adequate intake amount.

Also, experts recommend that women take prenatal vitamins that contain biotin.

Summary:

Marginal deficiency can lead to skeletal deformation in the fetus. So, women must always ensure that they’re taking adequate biotin especially in the early and late stage of pregnancy.

Smoking

Smoking is a cause of many health conditions including biotin deficiency, especially in women.[2] Due to smoking, nutrients, including antioxidants, B complex vitamins, and lipids, get degraded. Degradation of biotin can lead to marginal deficiency, which is teratogenic (causes abnormal fetal development) in mammals. That is why it is inadvisable to smoke during pregnancy.

Smoking accelerates the metabolism, leading not only to biotin deficiency but also to faster production of free radicals, substances that travel throughout our body while damaging cells and causing diseases such as cancer. To combat the effects of free radicals, it is advised to take antioxidants such as vitamin c, vitamin e, and beta-carotene.

Summary:

Smoking may lead to marginal deficiency and faster production of free radicals. Take supplements for biotin and consume foods with lots of antioxidants. Also, avoid smoking during pregnancy.

Alcoholism

To metabolize alcohol, our liver requires a lot of nutrients. In several animal studies, it has been noted that alcohol feeding can inhibit the absorption of biotin in both small and large intestines. Further, regular alcohol consumption in humans can cause a reduction in plasma biotin levels.

Alcoholism also inhibits the pancreas from properly absorbing vitamin C, causing pancreatitis among several other health issues.

Summary:

Consume alcohol in moderation, as it can deplete the plasma biotin levels and inhibit absorption of vitamin C by the pancreas.

Eating Raw Eggs

Raw eggs contain avidin, a protein that can bind to biotin and prevent its absorption, causing what’s popularly known as egg white injury. With prolonged raw egg consumption, people can experience severe biotin deficiency, leading to issues such as quadriplegia (weakness in limbs).

Although eggs contain a lot of biotin, eating raw eggs will ultimately cause a deficiency of biotin in women. An easy solution is to cook eggs, a process that deactivates avidin and enables your body to properly absorb the nutrients.

Summary:

Eating raw eggs may lead to biotin deficiency. Cook eggs to deactivate avidin, a protein that inhibits the absorption of biotin.

Other Cases

Biotin deficiency in women can be caused by several other factors. For one, long-term use of anticonvulsants (medications for seizures) leads to increased biotin catabolism and decreased status, causing biotin deficiency.[3]

Apart from food sources, our body gets biotin from the gut flora (bacteria’s in the gut.) Taking antibiotics kills the good bacteria in our intestines, disabling them from producing enough biotin. Further, people suffering from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and Crohn’s disease may not be able to properly absorb biotin.

Summary:

Women who are long-term users of anticonvulsants, take antibiotics, or suffer from IBS or crohn’s disease should ask their doctors about biotin supplements.

Adequate Intake of Biotin for Women

The recommended daily intake (RDI) for biotin has not been established yet. So, experts have recommended an adequate intake of biotin on the basis of age and reproductive state.

  • For women (including the time of pregnancy): 30mcg
  • For lactating women: 35mcg

However, during pregnancy (the reproductive stage), biotin catabolism is higher in women, leading to marginal deficiency, which can be very harmful to the health of the fetus. Therefore, experts recommend 2 to 3 times higher dosage than the one usually prescribed [1].

Summary:

Take 30mcg/day normally and 35mcg/day when lactating. However, if any of your tests reveal marginal biotin deficiency [very harmful to the fetus], then take 300mcg/day to correct the deficiency after consulting with your doctor.

Natural Sources of Biotin

Biotin deficiency rarely manifests in physical symptoms, making it hard to diagnose the issue. However, marginal deficiency of biotin is teratogenic (causes harm to fetus) in mammals including humans. Further, several debilitating symptoms including dermatitis, hair loss, and depression among many others can occur because of biotin deficiency.

So, it is important to ensure adequate intake of this vital vitamin.

TableBiotin Sources

Food Source

Serving Size (g)

mcg biotin/serving

Egg (egg yolk)

47 (15)

10 (4.08)

Beef liver

74

30.8

Pork Chop

80

3.57

Plain Yogurt

170

0.14

Chicken Liver

74

138

Catfish

93

0.69

Yeast

1

0.2

Salmon

63

3.69

Mushrooms

120

2.59

2% Milk

236

0.27

 

Below, we’ve mentioned the top 5 natural sources of biotin and reasons to include them in your diet.

Natural Sources of Biotin

Egg and Egg Yolk

Eggs are known as complete food and provide essential B vitamins like biotin. A cooked egg provides 10 mcg of biotin. 

Cooking egg completely is important, as it eliminates the risk of Salmonella infection and deactivates avidin, a protein that binds with biotin and hinders its absorption.

Eggs can be consumed in multiple forms such as scrambles, half-boiled, hard-boiled, or used in cakes and muffins. 

Liver, Kidneys and Other Meats

To boost biotin intake, you can include liver in your diet. Organ meats, such as livers and kidneys, are a great source of biotin.

Amount of biotin differs according to the type of meat. For instance, while 3-ounce of beef liver contains 31 mcg of biotin, 3-ounce of pork chop contain 4 mcg only.  A 3-ounce serving of cooked chicken liver provides 138 mcg of biotin.

Further, consuming liver also provides you with a substantial amount of iron, which is important in the formation of red blood cells. Include this healthy source of vitamins and minerals by adding it to burgers or pastas.

Yeast

Brewer’s yeast, popularly used to make beer and bread, is a very good source of biotin. However, you can also consume nutritional yeast. Both have a good taste: nutty and cheesy.

Legumes

Peanuts and soybeans, along with other legumes, contain substantial amounts of biotin. Peanuts, for instance, contain 5mcg of biotin in a 1-ounce (28 gram) serving, translating to 17% of daily value for a normal adult.

Apart from this, legumes are also a healthy source for fiber, protein, and other vitamins and minerals.

You can boil legumes and include them in salads and baked dishes.

Mushrooms

A fungi that is rich in nutrition, mushrooms contain a lot of biotin, which is also used by this species to protect itself from predators. A 5.6 gram serving of fresh button mushrooms contains 2.6 mcg of biotin.

Mushrooms are so versatile that you can include them in salads, pastas, sauces, pizzas, and gravies.

Biotin Supplements for Women

Biotin Supplements for Women

Biotin supplements work to enhance the keratin system, which is responsible for creating hair, nails, and skin in our body. Biotin also metabolizes fat, which gives your skin the shine and luster.

In this section, we’ll take a look at the ways in which biotin supplementation can help in various medical conditions.

Hair Fall, Breakage, and Splits

As a tissue with high biosynthetic activity, hair requires a lot of nutrients including biotin, trace elements, and other vitamins. Deficiency of biotin and other important nutrients results in bad skin and hair. 

In a study, 38% women complaining of hair loss were found to be deficient in biotin.

In a study in 2015 in which women were given MPS (marine protein supplement) with Biotin, more hair grew in areas affected by hair loss, and hair shedding decreased substantially. The supplement was given for 90 days. [4]

In a review of studies on biotin, researchers concluded that patients receiving biotin for poor hair or nail growth showed evidence of clinical improvement. [4]

However, apart from biotin, you should also look into iron supplements and get checked for endocrine disorders, such as thyroid disorder. Stronger and healthier hair will cause less hair fall and hair splits, leaving you with the desired result.

Summary:

Supplementation with biotin and iron can improve hair health, especially in women who’re deficient in biotin.

Brittle Nails

Brittle nails, like bad hair, can be caused by a lack of biotin.

In a review of clinical trials, it was noted that biotin improves the firmness, hardness, and thickness of brittle nails. [5]

In another study, participants were treated with 2.5mg of biotin per day for an average of 5.5 months, resulting in firmness and hardness of nails and increase in thickness by 25 percent. 91 percent of the participants experienced definite improvement in fingernail hardness. [6]

Also, use nail polish that contains nylon fibers to strengthen soft nails. Note that  treatment of brittle nails can be difficult and time consuming, so prevention by taking supplements is vital.

Summary:

Some studies have proven the efficacy of biotin for women in improving nail health.

Skin Conditions

Since most of us want beautiful glistening skin, we spend the most amount of money on skin care among all beauty products. However, simply applying chemicals hardly ever does the job. 

As an essential coenzyme in fat metabolization, biotin is essential for maintaining skin health and giving it that desired shine.

In one particular study, biotin was observed to be good for treating comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads.) Further, used alongside topical retinoids, biotin supplementation was able to control flaking and irritation of skin. [7]

The same study proved the efficacy of biotin supplements for treating mild and moderate acne. [7]

Biotin is also used in the treatment of Scleroderma, which is defined by hardened skin. Doctors often recommend taking 5mg of biotin supplement to ameliorate the negative effects of this condition. 

Summary:

Biotin metabolizes fat, which provides skin with the necessary shine, treats comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads) and reduces skin irritation and flaking.

Diabetes

Biotin is helpful in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

For type 1 diabetes, one study concluded that taking 16 mg of biotin per day reduced fasting level glucose by 50 percent. In another study, 2 to 4mg/d of biotin for three months lead to improved regulation of blood glucose levels and blood lipid levels.

For type 2 diabetes, 2 mg biotin with 600 mcg of chromium picolinate per day improved blood glucose control and triglyceride and other lipid levels.[8

In another research, taking 9 mg of biotin divided into 3 doses along with probiotic lead to normalization of glucose levels.

Some evidence suggests that taking high dosage biotin supplements can also help alleviate the pain from peripheral neuropathy, a common symptom of nerve damage caused by diabetes.

Summary:

Biotin is helpful in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It may ameliorate the pain from peripheral neuropathy.

Biotinidase

A mutation in the BTD gene can result in biotinidase, a condition that hampers the recycling of biotin. The symptoms of this condition include:

  • Hypotonia (Muscle Weakness)
  • Seizures
  • Development Issues
  • Skin Conditions such as Alopecia and Eczema
  • Vision and Hearing problems
  • Ataxia (problems with body movements)

Biotin supplements are usually prescribed by doctors in this case. 

Summary:

Doctors prescribe biotin supplements to people suffering from Biotinidase.

Other Benefits of Biotin

Apart from the aforementioned benefits, other benefits of biotin for women include:

  • Better cognitive function
  • Reduced Inflammation
  • Better Regulation of Blood Sugar Level
  • Decrease in LDL Cholesterol (bad) and Increase in HDL Cholesterol (HDL)

Biotin may also be helpful in multiple other health conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis and Crohn's disease.

Biotin Overdose, Side Effects, and Interactions

Caution: Always take health supplements after consulting your healthcare provider, especially if you’re pregnant or on any medication.

As a water soluble vitamin, Biotin rarely results in toxicity. Extra biotin is automatically excreted out via urine.However, if in an extremely rare instance toxicity occurs, then the following symptoms will be experienced:

  • Nausea
  • Digestive Issues
  • Cramping

To check for an overdose of biotin, your doctor will check for:

  • Low vitamin B-6 levels
  • Decline in insulin production
  • Low vitamin C levels
  • High blood sugar levels

Just to reiterate, biotin toxicity is extremely rare, as biotin is a water soluble vitamin. Extra biotin is automatically extracted out via urination.

Note: Take biotin with food to minimize the chance of side effects. Further, follow the dose as prescribed on the label or by your doctor.

Biotin has several interactions, especially with medications broken down by the liver. Biotin can speed up the breakdown process and make them less effective. Here is a list of such medications:

  • cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)
  • clozapine (Clozaril)
  • propranolol (Inderal)
  • zolmitriptan (Zomig)
  • tacrine
  • zileuton (Zyflo)
  • fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • imipramine (Tofranil)
  • haloperidol (Haldol)

Further, biotin and alpha-lipoic acid, and biotin and vitamin B-5 (pantothenic acid) can reduce each other’s absorption.

Note: Taking biotin supplement before a blood test is inadvisable, as Biotin can alter hormones in your body, leading to very misleading test results.

Summary:

Since biotin is a water soluble vitamin, its overdose is extremely rare. Biotin can interact with some medications that are metabolized by the liver.

Birth Control and Biotin

Birth control medications alter hormones in a woman's body, ensuring that no egg is released. Another type of birth control affects the cervical mucus, making it difficult for the sperm to travel and reach the egg. Most birth control pills are a combination of two hormones: progestin and estrogen.

When taken regularly, birth control pills are 99% effective, but when taken on an on and off basis, they are only 91% effective. Many packages come with placebo pills to ensure that women remain in a habit of taking them. 

Women can take biotin supplement with birth control pills, as there is no known interaction between the two. However, birth control pills can lead to a deficiency of some B vitamins such as B6, B9 and b12. Consider taking supplements for the same.

Summary:

There is no known interaction between biotin and birth control pills. However, biotin interacts with medications broken down by the liver.

Types of Biotin Supplements for Women

Types of Biotin Supplements for Women

Biotin supplements for women come in multiple forms. In this section, we’ll look at their benefits and shortfalls.

Biotin Capsules and Tablets

Tablets contain additives to hold the pill together and improve its color and taste. Popularly, they may also have a coating, which ensures that the tablet only breaks after entering the intestine. 

Capsules, on the other hand, are encapsulated medications. The outer shell breaks down in the digestive tract, after which the medication is absorbed into the body.

Uneven disintegration and bad taste make tablets a worse option. However, capsules act fast and have no taste and a better absorption rate.

Biotin Shampoo

Biotin from shampoos can be absorbed directly by the skin. Further, shampoos repair the breakages and thin out the hair to give it that smooth and shiny look. Note that it is recommended by experts that once you start using a biotin shampoo, you should apply it on a daily basis to view actual results.

Biotin Gummy Bears

Gummy bears are an attractive option for women who don’t like tablets and capsules. Both tablets and capsules have a strange and rustic smell, which can often put women off. Gummy bears, however, have a sweet taste and a fruity smell.

Shop Biotin Supplements

Conclusion

Biotin supplements may improve hair, nail, and skin health in women and help to manage the harmful effects of medical conditions such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Essential to the growth of the fetus, biotin should be supplemented during pregnancy and lactation. And because biotin supplements for women come in many forms, you have the flexibility to choose according to your own preference. 

FAQs

Q. What can Biotin do for you?

Ans. Biotin helps the body in metabolizing fats, but it can also bolster our body’s keratin system, which is responsible for the creation of healthy hair, nails, and skin.

Q. Are there side effects to taking biotin?

Ans. Since biotin is a water soluble vitamin, any excess amount is excreted out of the body via urine, making side effects and overdose extremely rare. However, in rare instances in which side effects occur, people can suffer symptoms such as nausea, digestive issues, and cramping.

Q. Does Biotin help with hair growth?

Ans. A review of clinical studies was conducted by researchers. This review concluded that patients receiving biotin for poor hair or nail growth showed evidence of clinical improvement. [4]

Q. Which supplement should I go with?

Ans. We recommend that you go with the capsule. When consumed internally, Biotin will work from inside out, boosting the health of your hair, nails, and skin.

Q. Can I take 10,000mcg of biotin daily?

Ans. Yes. According to Mayo Clinic, taking 10,000mcg of biotin per day has been reported to be safe and has no report of causing side effects. Further, high doses of biotin are recommended for improving hair, skin, and nail health.

Q. Can I overdose on Biotin?

Ans. As a water soluble vitamin, biotin in an extra amount is excreted out of the body. Unlike Vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin, biotin isn’t stored in the body, making biotin overdose extremely rare.

Q. How much biotin should I take to improve nails, hair, and skin?

Ans. In some researches, higher doses of biotin have resulted in improvement in nails, hair, and skin health. So taking a biotin supplement as high as 10mg (10,000mcg) may be advisable.

Q. Is it safe to take biotin during pregnancy?

Ans. Yes. In fact, pregnancy can result in marginal deficiency of biotin, a deficiency that can lead to skeletal malformation of the fetus. So, either take a prenatal vitamin with biotin or a separate supplement for biotin. However, consult your doctor before taking any health supplements.

Q. Which type of supplement would work the best for improving hair health?

Ans. Among the available options, you should go for a capsule, as it is better absorbed, and the biotin inside will bolster your keratin system.

Q. Does taking a biotin supplement cause acne?

Ans. Many people, especially women, are concerned about acne, and rightly so. However, there is little evidence of biotin causing acne. In fact, Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and Biotin supplements are used to treat acne.

References

[1] Mock DM, Mock NI, Stewart CW, LaBorde JB, Hansen DK. Marginal biotin deficiency is teratogenic in ICR mice. J Nutr. 2003 Aug;133(8):2519-25. doi: 10.1093/jn/133.8.2519. PMID: 12888630; PMCID: PMC1450011.

[2] Sealey, Wendy M et al. “Smoking accelerates biotin catabolism in women.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 80,4 (2004): 932-5. doi:10.1093/ajcn/80.4.932

[3] Mock, D M, and M E Dyken. “Biotin catabolism is accelerated in adults receiving long-term therapy with anticonvulsants.” Neurology vol. 49,5 (1997): 1444-7. doi:10.1212/wnl.49.5.1444

[4] Patel, Deepa P et al. “A Review of the Use of Biotin for Hair Loss.” Skin appendage disorders vol. 3,3 (2017): 166-169. doi:10.1159/000462981

[5] Lipner, Shari R, and Richard K Scher. “Biotin for the treatment of nail disease: what is the evidence?.” The Journal of dermatological treatment vol. 29,4 (2018): 411-414. doi:10.1080/09546634.2017.1395799

[6] Floersheim, G L. “Behandlung brüchiger Fingernägel mit Biotin” [Treatment of brittle fingernails with biotin]. Zeitschrift fur Hautkrankheiten vol. 64,1 (1989): 41-8.

[7] Piraccini, Bianca M et al. “Biotin: overview of the treatment of diseases of cutaneous appendages and of hyperseborrhea.” Giornale italiano di dermatologia e venereologia : organo ufficiale, Societa italiana di dermatologia e sifilografia vol. 154,5 (2019): 557-566. doi:10.23736/S0392-0488.19.06434-4

[8] Albarracin, Cesar A et al. “Chromium picolinate and biotin combination improves glucose metabolism in treated, uncontrolled overweight to obese patients with type 2 diabetes.Diabetes/metabolism research and reviews vol. 24,1 (2008): 41-51. doi:10.1002/dmrr.755

Author name

Sanjana Baruah

Bio details

Sanjana is proficient in genres including health & wellness, sports, and lifestyle. Being a young athlete, she also has 3+ years of writing experience in Sports, Health and Wellness.Her field of interest includes reading, running, and badminton.